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How Lightning Damages Trees

Lightning strikes the earth about 100 times each second. It looks for the path of least resistance to the ground and tall trees provide one such pathway.

Lightning travels through the trees water and sap to reach the ground. If the tree contains the most moisture in its center the lightning moves through there, vaporizes the water which expands and causes the tree to split or explode. If only the bark flies off the lightning most likely traveled through the vascular system just below the bark. When the tree trunk is wet, lightning may skim over the bark surface and down to the ground leaving a scar.

Damage may appear immediately and be severe enough to require the tree to be removed. In other cases, the damage may appear over time as the tree slowly declines.

Consider hiring a certified arborist to assess the damage and provide proper care.

A bit more information: Remove any damaged branches that create a hazard as soon as possible. Carefully remove any loose bark to facilitate wound closure and keep disease and insect pests out. Do not paint the wound as this can trap moisture and lead to decay. 

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